Serathis: The Storm of Memory

Game notes 2011 Dec 10
In which the Stormfront confronts HeadTaker

The group was presented with a collection of . . . well, TERRIBLE, options:

  • Head off into the Forest of Towers to seek a scroll that might better detail what, exactly, the phrase “have a Runechild give up his power.” means and whether that meant the death of Boren.
  • Head off into the swamps to seek out HeadTaker, a cyclops that is rumored to be bonded with the spirit of a Dramojh, and hope that it can provide insight into their quest to speak with Korangar the Screaming Scourge.
  • Attempt to gather more information on Korangar and his multidimensional prison.
  • Do nothing.

After much discussion, the group decided their best choice was to advance into the swamps and engage HeadTaker, and from there head out into the Forest and investigate the scroll. After some discussion and planning (largely whether they’d need to again borrow the Burdenless Stone, which was ruled out when they opted to leave Abilurd and Genn behind), the group instigated a series of teleports (via the Boots) to an area of the swamp near HeadTaker’s lair. Kirmaul and Kaezhar went first, and Udyr and Clovek followed on the return trip with Miriana the boot-wearer. They knew that they were in the right area based on the strings of heads (largely Akthars) hanging from the nearby trees.

Miriana had hoped to camp for a day or so waiting for HeadTaker to sleep so as to implant a suggestion, but this failed as it became apparent that HeadTaker didn’t sleep. On the second day, Kaezhar ventured out with Clovek and discovered the cyclops wandering it’s domain, hunting for a lunch. He watched it pulverize a deer with a careless backhand, but eventually catch and consume a dire bear. During this process, Kaezhar noted that it’s wounds closed on it’s own…which, needless to say, made fighting it even MORE problematic. After it’s meal, HeadTaker headed down into a open pit/quarry with a cave in it’s depression – clearly, it’s lair. The sides of the quarry were smeared with the remains of previous adventurers, strewn with heads and smashed gear, and – somehow- prevented Kaezhar from moving through them incorporeally.

The group discussed Kaezhar’s findings and (based on some game trails found by Udyr) decided the best bet would be to bring an offering of food to HeadTaker in an effort to win him/it over. The group stalked and eventually slew a mighty Dire Elk, which died quickly due to a well-placed Slow and Kirmaul doing 56 pts of damage in a single round. After some healing (Miriana was trampled, Clovek took some antler damage) and completing the decapitation of the beast, Kirmaul hefted it’s head and rack and the group headed for HeadTaker’s sunken lair.

The group arrived (having left Clovek behind to guard the remainder of the meat/booty), and while Kaezhar floated above the other 3 members descended into the pit with the elk’s head as an offering. “HEADTAKER!” cried Kaezhar, in Nyssian, “WE HAVE BROUGHT YOU A GIFT!” HeadTaker’s response was to unleash a 15-foot wide beam of crimson-white fire, catching the living members of the group flatfooted and nearly killing them outright. [DM note – lots of d6. 50 damage, even, so it required Fort vs. Death saves. All passed, and Jason even made the initial save so only took half damage and thus stayed conscious!] HeadTaker emerged, eye still sparking and glowing, and demanded to know why he shouldn’t continue the slaughter. Kaezhar talked him down – still in Nyssian – and motioned to the group, then indicated to them (in Haraen) “Wait here.” Kaezhar and HeadTaker left the pit, heading for the elk’s carcass.

The remainder of the group, shaken, healed themselves of their wounds and looked about the quarry. While none entered the cave itself, they all found some gear amidst the remains of the less fortunate – Udyr found a bandoleer and 3 fine daggers, Kirmaul found a oil of Magic Weapon, and Miriana found a fine and clearly magical red and gold cape. Hiding their booty upon hearing the booming footfalls of HeadTaker’s return, they looked up to see Kaezhar and HeadTaker above them. The cyclops threw the elk’s body (which it carried, easily, despite it’s massive size) down into the pit, then descended itself and muttered something up to Kaezhar – still, all in Nyssian.

Kaezhar led the group out of the pit and explained the conversation he had with HeadTaker – the beast was of two minds, clearly, and the Dramojh within wanted to be free of the idiot it was stuck in. In it’s own broken way, it indicated what it needed – there was a Troll Warlock, trapped within an Iron Golem in Serathis, that had the ability to break it’s spirit out of the Cyclops. If the group could bring the Warlock to the pit, HeadTaker would (in turn) give them the methodology by which to pass through Korangar’s prison and reach him. Also, it had (apparently, for free) told Kaezhar further information about the task of breaking Korangar free – basically, something ‘good’ needed to give up it’s power in order to break the curse. A Runechild, thus, could give up it’s Rune (and thus “Runechildy-ness”) and do so, or so could a powerful force of good sacrifice itself to do so. In theory, an exceedingly powerful evil entity could give up it’s power (or kill a powerful force of good, etc) to do the same, but given the fail safes the Trinity built into the system it would be a LOT of power vs. just giving up a Rune. HeadTaker also implied that Korangar (whom he talked of as if he knew him) was trustworthy and kept his word, after a fashion.

The group agreed to do this thing, Kaezhar let HeadTaker know, and they all Teleported back to Serathis proper in order to let Abilurd and Genn in on the plan.

As it stands, the group’s path is roughly the following:

  1. Go fight Stompy the Iron Golem, and in so doing break free some sort of Troll Warlock that’s been held imprisoned within it for what sounds like thousands of years.
  2. Deliver this Warlock to HeadTaker so that the Dramojh spirit within might once more be rendered mortal.
  3. HeadTaker will, in turn, give the group the information on how to pass through the Prison of Korangar the Screaming Scourge.
  4. Figure out who/how/what they need for this ‘investiture of power’ that would be necessary to free Korangar the Screaming Scourge.
  5. Get through the prison – bringing with them Rokverkur and the vial of blood and this power – and meet Korangar the Screaming Scourge.
  6. Convince Korangar the Screaming Scourge to give up Xarthran’s truename and leave the plane if the Stormfront were to free him and give him the methodology with which to leave (the stone of Planeshift). This will also destroy Xarthran’s phylactery, conveniently.
  7. Get back out of the Prison of Korangar the Screaming Scourge.
  8. Go take on Xarthran, now armed with it’s truename AND having rendered it mortal.
  9. Oh, and not get sidetracked and/or killed by Valdra, whomever sent Miriana the invitation, the Hooks, or any of the OTHER enemies the group has made.
Game notes 2011 Aug 12
In which the Stormfront finds out exactly how screwed they are.

We discuss what to do; one of the first orders of business, we decide, is to repair the Stone of Planeshifting we recovered from the spelljammer. There are several ways to do this; sacrifice a huge elemental, a runechild, the power source that powers Stompy, or slowly drop spell energy into it. Miriana and Alibard decide to start dumping spells into it, for the time being; at the mention of Stompy, Genn gets a glint in his eye.

With our casters occupied (and Orad still on his vision quest), we decide to take Genn, Kirmaul, and Udyr to rent a boat and scout the island in the center of the lake. First, we decide to go to Phargaryn; the Lake is right above his lair, and he might know something about the island.

We set out early in the morning; the Hooks are roaming the slums, but nobody messes with us. Tol-Bandari’s victory has inspired the city, to a degree; men are patrolling the streets, keeping the peace. As we get closer to the sewers, we see that some adventurers have mistakenly crossed the inchon, and paid the price. They let us pass, however. We proceed to Phargaryn’s chamber.

We approach; as we come in, he says, “Greetings.” Udyr greets him in kind, and asks him (politely) for council. We end up bargining story for story

The desert lies far to the east, toward the Dragon cities.

In the time of the Dramojh, there was a human king, protected by a warrior gifted with unearthly abilities. He did everything in his power to throw the dramojh back, but he was betrayed by his friends, his councilors, his lover. The Dramojh eventually defeated him, twisted his form; the rumor is that he is now in he form of a giant crustacean, existing out of time. If that’s true, the Moment you speak of, it’s a Moment when time doesn’t happen. It wouldn’t be able to effect reality there, but if he were to come into our world, it would be powerful indeed.

We tell him of our plan; he informs us that he doesn’t know what’s on the island, and that he was unable to teleport anything or anyone out. Something’s there, he knows, it’s powerful and evil. No scrying spells have worked on the island at all. There was once a building on that island, and under it is some sort of basement or cave; the barrier to scrying is at the entrance to this dungeon. There’s a brilliant green flash of light, and then sound stops. That’s it. Nothing that goes in comes out. The island is about the size of a city block, at itself is safe; only those who dare into the dungeon disappear.

Udyr returns the Burdenless Stone to Boren, and gets his collateral back.

Back at the house, Genn tries to delve about the green flashing lights and disappearances, and feels as though he’s stopped; he’s on the right track, but then hits a wall — perhaps the person who holds the memory is stopping you. Udyr suggests that it might be Phargaryn.

Lacking both options and answers, we decide to rent a boat and go to the island. It’s about mid-day when we arrive; it’s a rocky island, with a gravel beach around it. The island has a low slope (maybe 40 feet at the highest point) and, as Phargaryn described, the ruins of a squat tower. We see the stains of worked iron on the stones. There are no plants or animals; not even moss or lichen. As near as we can tell, we’re the only living things on the island. There are some footprints leading into the cavern under the rubble; another adventuring party, perhaps?

Kirmual throws rocks into the cavern entrance; nothing. Genn tries a live fish. Nothing. Udyr attempts to conjure a minor earth elemental; instead, he gets a 12 foot tall monster, obviously trying to break free of the spell. Udyr still has it (barely) under control, and directs it toward the dungeon. We hear a pop, like a cork coming out of a bottle, and then the dirt hitting the ground; the elemental is no longer there. We decide to experiment, casting Ability Boost (Constitution) to see if it’s all spells that are being amplified. At first, nothing happens, as before. Then, Udyr begins to swell — after a minute, he looks like he weighs half a ton now. He stupefies, as all of his other abilities suffered. Genn runs over and slaps him, yelling, ‘Stop it! Stop the spell!’ After a moment, he does so, and returns to normal. Udyr, once he’s himself again, he starts to figure it out. Magic seems to be perverted; the primary effect is amplified, but everything else that can go wrong, does. “Monkey Paw,” he says. Bravely, he tries Detect Magic. After a delay, a glow comes from his eyes; we’re pretty sure they can see it from the Giant’s castle. He passes out, and lets go of the spell. Genn tries his abilities (fireball), and they seem to work.

Genn tries to delve for similar effects, and Kirmual sees him explode into runes — the runes

Udyr saw something living on the far side of the lake, toward the Medusa Court, that is exceptionally powerful — it’s got more than one life essence in it. Looking at it, it’s Phargaryn. Two, Genn is a construct; he’s not really human. Not a flesh golem, but like a flesh elemental. Three, there is a massive interdimensional space under the island.

Genn’s vision is simpler; he sees the Habinar Trinity. They say simply, “What you are doing is dangerous. Stop it,” and then one of them strikes him, and he wakes up.

“How long have we been out?” Udyr asks, waking up in the house. “Hours,” Kirmal says. “I brought you back from the island.” Kaezhar shows up, and we tell him what we found out. “Well,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about it, and you should see the ritual you’ll need. But it’s my last bargaining chip; I’ll have you swear an oath that you will see this quest through.”

“I would swear this oath to release Kaezhar from his suffering, even if he did not require it. He was a friend.” The rest of the group agrees, Udyr reluctantly so. We all sip the wine.

Afterward, he pulls a scroll and a small glass phial from Clovek’s collar; the container seems to be full of blood. The scroll actually has two rituals on it; the first tells us how draw the runes needed to get the demon head to speak with us. The second details the runes needed to turn the demon’s head back to flesh, drawn in the blood contained in the phial. (Very specific virgin blood.) There’s a problem. The second ritual requires the power of a runechild. Essentially, a runechild must forfeit his ‘runechildness’.

“Dammit,” Genn says. “We’re even more screwed than usual.”

Game notes 2011 Jul 08
In which the Stormfront finds out the details of the death of Selsarras, and meets and old friend.

After making his surprising entrance, the incorporeal, ghostly form of Kaezhar says that he wants to meet up with the Stormfront tonight in the tunnels beneath Serathis. He’ll leave Clovek with you, and once the sun has set Clovek will lead you to Kaezhar. With that, he seeps back through the floor and basement.

The group is left in silence for a moment, staring at each other. “That,” Genn finally says under his breath, “was unexpected.”

After the companion he thought dead, cremated, and buried dissolves into mist, Genn seems lost in thought for a moment; perhaps he’s remembering how Kaezhar died, or perhaps he’s fearful of what his return might mean. Finally, he visibly snaps out of his revelry; his posture straightens, his eyes go sharply into focus, and he’s once again himself. (Oddly, when this happens, you feel a slight gust of wind — despite being indoors.)

“Right, then,” he says, looking at the company. “Things have gotten even more complicated than usual, and given our current web of intrigue, that’s saying something. And we’re walking through this forest even more blind than usual, which is also a feat. We need to find out what the hell that stupid oaf of a Giant thinks he’s done, and to who, and what he plans to do next. If we’re lucky, he just thinks he’s killed some evil monster ‘for justice!’” — here, Genn imitates the Champion of Justice — “and leaves it at that. In that case, all we have to do is figure out what Selsarras was planning to do against the Master, figure out how we were supposed to fit into the plan, and go from there.”

Genn looks around the room again. “If we’re unlucky,” he continues, answering the unspoken question in the room, "All of that is true, plus Selsarras told Tol-Bandari all about us, and he’s headed this way to bring his thick-headed version of Justice down on us.

“And if we are extremely unlucky,” he finishes, "all of that is true, plus Xarthran is the one who put up Tol-Bandari against the Slassan, much like I think Selsarras was going to throw us against Xarthan.

“So see what you can find out, quickly and quietly,” — here, a glare at the northern members of group — “because we need to know how much danger we’re in, and how fast it’s headed here. Keep your ear to the ground, see what people are saying about the slassan, about Tol-Bandari, and if they mention the Stormfront at all. Hit Grom’s, the hunter’s guild, the market, whatever you think best. Me, I’m going to probe the Memory — a crowd that big, all talking about recent events, surely I’ll be able to get something halfway accurate, or at least know what the mob thinks.”

With that, Orad goes off to the Hunting Guild. Udyr decides to go to the market, and hear what can be heard — as well as to buy some spell components. The group also decides to send Abilard (who is still in the body of Tarja) to talk to Tol-Bandari; perhaps she (he?) can flatter her (his?) way into the Giant giving up some secrets. Miriana takes Clovek for a walk; “It’s been so long since I’ve seen my old friend,” she says.

Dar-Moren is a Giant shopkeeper that Udyr strikes up conversation with, and learns a lot. Instead of doing what was prudent and selling it, the shopkeeper says, he paraded the corpse through the streets. People grabbed bits of the body, until there was nothing left but the head. Apparently, Tol-Bandari found this monster right outside the city; he claimed to be led there by a vision — someone in a dream told him where to go.

The Hunter’s Guild tells much the same story; the Castle Vanguard even congratulates them, and almost certainly pays a sizable bounty. The League of Justice are made heroes, and can currently be found basically bar-hopping, getting free drinks, and going a bet crazy. They lost men, and looked like they had a hell of a battle; some 20 returned.

Abilard turns her armor into something suggestive, but not too revealing, and soon finds the Justice League partying it up. She looks for one of Tol-Bandari’s men, someone to flirt with who might be a bit open. One comes up that is really drunk, too drunk to know anything; another comes up who pushes his mate away, and offers to buy Abilard a drink. “What exactly are you offering to buy?” she says. Without thinking, Abilard orders a glass of vodka (potato distill), to the disbelief of his potential suitor. “You’re drinking free?” she says, seemingly impressed. “Tell me the story!”

“I don’t want to brag, but Tol-Bandari woke me and several other close companions to walk with him and break our fast a few days ago. We walked, and he told us of his vision. I admit, I was skeptical; but now, I think of Tol-Bandari as a visionary. Tol-Bandari led us to a cavern, and we faced golems, and other terrible monsters. Finally, we faced the eight-legged beast himself, weaving terrible spells. We prevailed, but lost over half our men. As we looted the spoils of our battle, the cavern collapsed; some spell was triggered by the beast’s death. But now that we’re heroes of the realm, I imagine the League of Justice will become a legion, and we’ll take on greater threats. Perhaps the Hooks; perhaps somewhere else where Tol-Bandari’s visions lead us. We’re staying in Castle Vanguard for the night; my name is Braggand. It’s quite a large bed at the castle; bring a friend.” He makes reference to Valdra as well; Tol-Bandari is working with a group that attacked her at one point, but he doesn’t trust us. It seems, however, that the Stormfront’s secret is safe.

Genn’s probing of the Memory picks up the same story; Tol-Bandari himself apparently dragged the slassan’s body out of the cave. Genn also manages to find the location of cave in the Memory.

As evening falls, the group gathers again. Miriana promptly goes to bed, saying she’s sleepy. When she’s gone, Genn discusses a possibility — did Miriana give Tol-Bandari the vision? Did Xartharn? Phargaryn? Someone else? We might find clues in the cave.

Alibard suggests the possibility that we strike first at Tol-Bandari, just in case. She has a invitation to the castle. . . “That’s a terrible idea!” Udyr exclaims. “What would that get us, besides herpes?”

Klovek begins to insist that we follow him in the tunnels beneath the city, and we do. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else in the tunnels; not even smugglers. Odd, for Serathis. We finally meet with Kaezhar. Genn hesitates for a second, and then decides that, hey, this is a friend, and walks toward him, extending his hand. “Welcome back, friend.”

Kaezhar, unfortunately, has the hatred of life that all undead seem to share, and further, blames the group for his current state. Despite his feelings of hatred and betrayal, however, he is bound to the group, as he explains:

- After meeting the group, Selsarris somehow got hold of Kaezhar’s ‘crate’, which was full of shed skin and scales. Using these pieces, he raised Kaezhar the Unfriendly Ghost.
- Prior to his slaying, Selsarris had sworn Kaezhar to an Oath – “Help the group overthrow Xarthran – without harming them! – and afterwards you are free to do as you will.” He then explained his plan to Kaezhar and provided a scroll and a vial of blood for it to work. Then he died.

Kaezhar goes on to explain the history, as he knows it, of what we’re about to face:

- A long time ago, a great Demon name Korangar the Screaming Scourge (named such due to the great, destructive noise he could bring as well as the lamentations of his victims) was summoned to Serran by parties unknown. He couldn’t get back home, so gated in a bunch of demon buddies (well, until folks back home realized no one was returning and stopped responding to his calls) and started to wreck shit.
- The Hanavere Trinity worked to stop Korangar, but he was too strong – they couldn’t kill him. So, instead, they did the best they could – they decapitated him, then encased his severed head in Elizhar to prevent it from being found. That was, unfortunately, not enough – the head started to regenerate and began screaming retribution (cracking a piece off the Elizhar and perverting it to darkness forever), but before it could break free fully the Trinity reenforced the binding and converted the whole mass of head+Elizhar into glass. This, essentially, stasis-locked Korangar AND had the benefit of rendering him magically un-findable.
- Knowing that Korangar’s followers (other demons, cultists, whatever) would want him back, the Trinity knew they had to hide his head somewhere safe. To do this, they created the memory hole over Serathis and stuck Korangar’s head under Stonepile Lake.
- The head can be converted back from glass and broken open, but only in a certain way – the piece that broke free during it’s vitrification, he dagger Rokverkur, needs to be reinserted back into it for the repair to work.
- Whatsmore, the only way to fully convert it back is to ‘have a Runechild give up his power.’ to undo the vitrification. The translation here is a little dicey – it could mean ‘kill a Runechild/use it’s heartblood’ as part of the ritual, it could me a Runechild literally de-Runes itself, or it could mean something else entirely. Essentially, reversing this spell requires either the approval or the sacrifice or ‘de-Runechilding’ of a ‘protector of Serran’.
- The group can use a weaker ritual (combined with virginal blood, so gathered by Selsarris) to communicate with Korangar while he’s in stasis-lock, however. Said ritual will give them about an hour of communication, total, before it need be repeated, and can only be performed once a day.

Game notes 2011 May 21
In which the Stormfront makes another bargain, and winds up on a boat.

Miriana, Udyr, and Genn use the Boots of Teleportation to head back to transport back to Serathis; the remainder of the Stormfront stays in town to prepare.

Udyr goes shopping, finding five potions of darkvision and purchasing them; he can cast waterbreathing for all of us. Meanwhile, Genn goes to the Library and finds out more than he bargained for:

- Water Elementals generally speak Aquan, which at this point none of you do. Smarter elementals can generally pick up other languages, but remember – this thing can’t venture too far from where it was summoned, and where it was summoned was a good depth underwater. Unless it met a mermaid or something, it’s probably not talking to anyone.
- Telepathy would work if you shared a language, as it does have a mind. I think Heightened Telepathy bypasses language, but I don’t have AE in front of me so can’t promise that.
- Water Elementals, in general, are patient, quiet, and their main motivation is hording. Unlike dragons, however, they don’t particularly care what they horde – they just like having stuff in their possession. They are generally unwilling to part with anything in their collections.
- In terms of biology/ecology, a Water Elemental of this size weighs in at about 11-13 tons. It can be up to 40 feet to a side, is amorphous (duh), and has standard elemental traits – i.e., immune to crit/flanking/sneak attacks/bleed/paralysis/poison/sleep/stun. Also, they don’t eat/sleep/breathe. Typically, a water elemental exists for some 200-800 years before it re-corporates back into the Elemental Prime, though some may/have lived longer.
- Elementals of this size are MASSIVELY strong, also, so they hit pretty hard. They are amazingly resilient to damage, though it’s been noted in some texts that Cold may overwhelm their DR. Shockingly, they do not also have SR. They can also see in the dark, which is good given the depth at which this one resides. Oh, and one other thing – Water Elementals get meaner when they and their opponent(s) are both touching water.

He also probes the Memory:

The ship that crashed was called “Vlaakith’s Dagger”, and it crashed into the seas of Serran late in the evening on the 1st day of Seventhmonth, CY 981. It was badly damaged when it crashed, as it’s mission had ended in massive failure – it had blindly shifted some 19 consecutive times in order to escape pursuit, and as a result it’s crystal engine was badly damaged. While it had finally escaped it’s pursuers, it had the bad luck to appear a mere 500 feet over the water while travelling at a downward (well, relative to the plane it had entered) angle at maximum thrust. The Dagger slammed into The Gulf of Firesight less than a second after it appeared, drawing the attention of the small coven of Verrik celebrating the Solstice on the nearby beach. Most of those aboard the ship died on impact – if they weren’t dead already – and many were thrown free of the sinking hull. As the ship sank, the motive Elemental within attempted to break free – it’s bindings had loosened on impact, and it knew the crew to be distracted and scattered. While it did manage to summon a friend shortly after the ship touched bottom, shortly thereafter the remains of the crew managed to rebind it back within the ship despite it’s efforts. The crew were, unfortunately, unable to use the rebound air Elemental to pull free of the ocean floor – an enraged water Elemental held the ship in place and attacked anything moving about near it, and does so still. Even worse, the crystalline engine remained active despite the best of the remaining mechanist’s meager ability. Normally, this wouldn’t be too bad – a minor Planar break, but nothing insurmountable.

…unless, of course, the last plane visited was some sort of hellish nether Shadow realm. With no way to close the rift and no escaping the elemental, the remaining Githyanki aboard quickly fell to The Dark. The Elemental wasn’t long to follow, relatively, though it still clings to a form of quasi-life despite it’s tainted nature. Captain Vlax and her crew remain aboard, undying, and unable to get away despite years of effort.

Genn goes to see Boren, and then Phargaryn, desparate for some means of getting out of this alive. The Inchon seem to have been in some sort of battle. They gesture Genn into the tunnels; he seems them dragging away what seems to be a dead Litoran. The sancuary is littered with signs of battle; Phargaryn himself is visibly wounded, unable to even stand.

“How badly are you hurt?” Genn asks. He starts doing his odd hissing, which takes longer. Genn asks for information; Phargaryn asks him to wait a moment, then the body dies. The guard takes the body, and dumps it unceremoniously into the water. In a moment, Genn sees a strange monster approach. The voice is now incredibly deep, and powerful.

“I don’t know anything specific of this ‘flying ship’”, he says. “As to your first question,” he shows that Vardallian is still glass, and still intact. He doesn’t have much information to give; in the course of the conversation, it is made known that he doesn’t know about the Jerad at all, nor can he even see it. The battle was apparently due to a misunderstanding between Phargaryn and the League of Justice; Genn promises to speak with the Giant next time he sees him. Also, Phargaryn makes note that Vardra is quite interested that Genn is underground and in the dark.

We continue to discuss; lacking options, we go back to Phargaryn, in an attempt to ask him to teleport us all to the ship Phargaryn bargains, and says he may even be able to dismiss the water elemental, for a price. Genn offers up the coin with the pearl, and reveals to the group (and Phargaryn) the ‘vision’ he had, as well as the fact that he stole the coin from the group and has had it hidden with him for years.

Phargaryn puts us up for the night, and in the morning, once we’re ready. Miriana casts Heightened Waterbreathing on all of us, which should give us four hours or so. The potions of darkvision should last around three hours. Phargaryn has opened a portal to the deck of the ship. He plans to send us there first, and then he will deal with the Elemental.

The ship is made of metal, with wooden bits (the floor, the doors, etc.) The air reeks. The mass of water above us starts churning, and then all of a sudden there is a flash and a pop; whatever was wrapped around the ship has now gone.

We hear footsteps, and a grey figure appears. She sees us, sees the water elemental has disappeared, and runs back down the stairs. We prepare for a possible ambush.

The ship starts to rise from the water as soon as the elemental leaves; after a tense battle, the captain of the ship comes out and joins the battle as well. He tosses Orad overboard, but the rest of the party manages to stop him by breaking the spell barriers put up around himself. Unfortunately, everyone but Kirmaul falls off — everyone including the Gith — and into the sea as it lists badly and flips over. The Gith captain swims away, and what remains of his crew follow him; the Stormfront has almost certainly made a new enemy today.

Black Eyes Susan, the beholder pirate, teleports onboard, and the Stormfront uses magic to fly back up and join her. She allows us on board with a nod, and we quickly find the gem we’ve been seeking; the gem that powers that powers the planeshifting ability of this craft.

We bring it up to the deck, and search the ship for the promises plunder.

greatsword +1 x4
masterwork scale x4
longbows, quivers x4 x40
random coins from across planes

1 chain shirt
masterwork greatswords
masterwork composite longbow (
3 str)
masterwork daggers

int-boosting headband
ring of protection +1
wand of ability boost (strength only), 37 charges

body of the ghost had pair of masterwork daggers, +2 chain, +2 keen greatsword, and a ring of protection +3 with some ghost-like attributes

As we search, Susan brings it into the water, and extends as walkway. Miriana removes the gem with telekenisis, When we reach the deck again, Susan’s already busy getting the ship underway with her rhodin and chorrim. As we disembark, we feel a weight seemingly lifted from us; our Oath has been kept.

We retire back at the inn for the night to recover; Udyr chats up his bard girlfriend a bit, but other than that the night passes uneventfully. Miriana casts Greater Repair on the gem to curtail its corrupting influences, and succeeds fairly well. We decide to teleport back to Serathis as soon as possible, lest we find our throats cut in the night; we’re free of the Oath, but so is the beholder.

In the early morning, there’s some sort of noise outside; some sort of gathering or celebration, despite it not being a holiday. We got outside to look, and we see a crowd in front of the Giant’s fortress, celebrating a Giant Champion of Justice. He holds up the head of a monster, and shouts, “JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE!” — we see the head of Selsarras.

We head back to the house, and find the door has been kicked in (again). There’s a dire wolf sitting at the table, and a man that’s translucent. “Hello, old friend,” he says. “We need to have a talk about Selsarras.” We recognize him as the ghost of Kaezhar.

We level up (save Genn, due to his template.)

Game notes 2011 Apr 23
In which the Stormfront parlays with a beholder

In the morning, the group finds that Genn has arrived back at some point in the night. Abilard/Tarja remains a woman, and slightly confused. Three is no longer at the house, and is missed; she was contributing more to the upkeep of the house than we’d realized.

Udyr calls people around the table, to discuss our next steps and how to defeat or bargain with Black Eyes Susan. Orad decides to go to the Hunting Guild to see what he can learn about beholders, or ‘eye tyrants’. None of the hunters have ever seen one; the one member who had dreams of bringing one down left with a party of strong men, but never returned.

Udyr sits beside Miriana, and asks her, “Have you — or any of your persona – ever come across a beholder?” She replies, “The Dramoj, they were nasty. I don’t know about beholders.”

“We have made a deal with a demon,” Orad explains to Abilard, “who goes by the name Selsaras. We do this for revenge, to prevent future attacks, and to find answers we are looking for. He’s pledged to help us kill an undead Mojh named the Master. We’ve agreed to his plan.”

Genn searches the Memory for tales of people who have killed beholders. One group got lucky, and got in close with axes. Another used ballista to rain down bolts. A less likely story involves a volcano.

As for her crew, rumor has it that is mostly rhodin, with some chorrim. We know the location of a cabin nearby the town (Spetattor), and Orad makes the suggestion to move there and continue our intelligence gathering efforts.

We decide to get some magic to reduce weight from Senka, and use the boots of teleportation; she offers to loan us a Burdenless Stone for some collateral. Udyr puts 6k down, and we take the stone.

Genn attempts to use the Boots of Teleportation based on the description, but fails — her, Orad, and Kirmual end up in the ocean, near a lighthouse. Thankfully, they can fly, and we move toward the lighthouse and town below it. We eventually see the cabin, and move toward it. As soon as we’re in the cabin and safe, Miriana gives Genn a mean look in a way that only a teenager can, and starts removing the boots from Genn’s feet. She is much more successful at using the magic item, and the rest of the group arrives at the cabin with less dampness.

We start looking at the town, and the jungle around it. There are two ships in the harbor, where work may be being done on them. We can’t see marking on the ships. We spend the night in the cabin, uneventfully.

We go into the town (Ed: I was out with kid duties – can someone update this bit?). They allow us in after some questioning and taking note of our description and weapons. (Alibard also made a ‘friend’ with one of the guards, due to his quality booze and Tarja’s . . . attributes.) People seem friendly enough, and recommend we talk to a chorrim named Toshi at the local inn. There are rhodin in this town, as well as chorrim, and they are freely going about their business and work in the town. Nobody is really afraid; there is some tension, but no outright hostility. We spend some time people watching as we go along, seeing if we can notice anyone who may be a connection; we notice the rhodin all have a brand; a circle with a dot in the center, on the left arm. These rhodin are unusually orderly, clean, and well equipped. We continue to the inn.

The inn is a three story building; ‘The Lost Dragon’. It’s about half full, as we’ve arrived close to lunch. We get a table, and some food. We’re attract some attention, just by virtue of being new people in a small town. The guard who Abilard chatted up comes over, and Abilard attempts to chat him up.

Miriana goes to the bartender, and asks about Toshi. We find out it’s “Commander Toshi”. She has an additional tattoo, we’re told; one on her right shoulder, and it has a red dot as well as the black one. We need to wait for Toshi, so we spend time drinking. After an hour or so, a striking, tall, green woman wearing quality armor walks into the room; obviously Commander Toshi, with a companion who remains standing when Toshi sits. We notice a scar on her wrist, as though her hand may have been severed once, though it is fully functional now. Abilard staggers over, unused to heavy drinking in his new body. She tells us Mayor Green gives work around her, and Captain Susan calls her ship the “Blazing Eye”; it’s in dock now, the other ship is down for repairs. She tells all of this fairly loudly, and Miriana and Kirmaul use this chance to go over to the Chorrim.

Miriana starts out, but lies poorly. Kirmaul steps in: “Me and my friends are looking for work,” she says. “Who told you what Captain Susan is?” Toshi starts to question us and how we know so much. Genn steps in and tells him that we found the location and info of Susan via the Memory, but we don’t know what she’s looking for. He attempts to be assertive, playing the group as simply a mercenary party looking to make a profit where few others would dare. We impress Toshi enough to have her say she’ll contact us; we take rooms in the inn.

In the evening, a woman announced as Anara Green comes in for musical entertainment; Abilard drinks most of the evening. Udyr goes up and introduces herself, and she responds politely – in Verrick, despite being human herself. They share a rare Verrick drink, and he finds out she is the daughter of Mayor Green. He continues to chat her up, and finds out she may have a magic cloak that allows her to leave when she desires. Udyr also finds out where the Green resident is; about half a mile west of the inn, on the coast.

At about three in the morning, there’s a knock on our doors. The rhodin ask us to come downstairs, quietly. They leave as soon as we respond. We head down, and see Toshi’s companion. “Susan would like to give you an audience, and requests that no hostile action be taken against her. In return, she will grant you the same, until we get back to the inn.” We agree, and Genn announces he speaks for the group.

We start walking toward the lighthouse; there are four rhodin guards at the gate, and two others near the door. We enter, and are asked to ascend to the top to meet with Susan and Commander Toshi. We arrive, seeing the beholder (wearing a pirate hat, oddly) staring at the stairwell, instantly taking down any magical effects.

As we stand there in the anti-magic field Miriana almost passes out, and Genn visibly fades and looks paler. Udyr tends to Miriana, and finds out whatever is causing this isn’t physical.

“If you can help me in defeating the defender of this ship, I will freely give you the gem and any treasure find on it, and neither me nor mine will harm you in any way.” We agree to Susan’s terms, and she brings down a hookah to bind us to the oath. “I swear upon the salt of my body and by the salt of my ancestors that I will see this oath through.”

The ship in question that crashed into the base of the lighthouse is a Spelljammer; with the gem we were sent to acquire, it can jump between planes (an incredibly rare ability in the world). Susan wants it because it’s a flying, teleporting ship – ideal for being a pirate. Usually, a Spelljammer ship is powered by an air elemental; when it crashed, it summoned a elder water elemental that is now guarding the ship and can’t return home. That’s what we need to fight and kill.

The group continues to probe the situation with questions to the Beholder:

Waiting with the stillness of the grave as his allies ask their questions, the only sound to come from Abilurd while others are speaking is a surprised cough when he draws too deeply from the hookah for his new body’s lungs.

When Orad questions Captain Susan about the elemental, Abilurd’s glazed gaze flickers.  “Is the creature truly alive?  Death holds no sway over an element.  My people believe that in a the great water, a vast, cool water, is where the dead rest.”  A look of confusion comes over his face as he adds, “But I remember it being hot.”

The beholder turns to look at you, and squints as if it has trouble following your questions.

“Alive?  All elementals ARE alive in a sense, but not as you’d describe it – they’re bits of the sentient…um….idea?…of whatever they represent.  ‘Slaying’ an elemental does nothing more than banish it’s ‘spirit’ – and I use that term loosely – back to the plane of it’s origin.  Given how it arrived and that it can’t leave Serran, that may be it’s only way home.  An interesting thought, actually.  Hmm…”

Uncharacteristically, Abilurd scoffs quietly at the oath if it’s brought up by a party member, but not if he thinks Susie or one her commanders is listening – he’s brave and daft but not insane.  He does seem, however, wary of the negative repercussions for breaking it.  If he can catch the ear of anybody but Kirmaul, he wonders if it’s worth “borrowing” the extra ship, the one that’s helping to repair the Blazing Eye, to assault the elemental.

Orad takes another hit of the hookah, and blows three smoke rings into the air.

“Captain Susan, where exactly is this ship? Is it underwater or mangled upon the rocks? Is it still operable? Could it be taken to another…” Orad pauses, trying to sound like he understands the next words, “… plane if we got on board?”
The beholder looks back at you, it’s eyes (and, again, the central one is closed here) a little red from all the smoke.  “The ship is under the waves, approximately 300 feet down.  I’m not sure how usable it still is – from what I’ve seen, there’s some damage to the hull, but the interior still seems to hold at least in part some air or air pockets.  I suspect that’s from the air elemental that powers it, but I could be wrong.  I suspect that if one got aboard one could make it planeshift (and this is a word many of you won’t be familiar with) away, but the ship itself might not be useable as a ship wherever you went.  Also, y’know, you made an Oath that the ship was mine, so……”

“And please,” Orad continues, “Tell us all that you know about our new quarry, the water elemental. How large is it? Can it venture far from the ocean? What is its primary method of attack and defense?”

Susan replies: “The water elemental seems to wrap itself around the ship, and doesn’t venture to far from it.  I’m not sure if it even can, honestly – ships can pass over it with relative ease, as can swimmers.  Hell, sharks even.  Only when one gets about 100 feet down does it react, and it does so swiftly – it weighs some 11 tons and is made of pure, heavy water, but moves like the wind.  It’s like fighting the stormiest tide you’ve ever seen, only the tide is made of liquid steel.  It can also form into some sort of whirlpool-like structure, but it again seems to be limited in how far it can move away.  If I had to guess at the size, I’d say it was some 30 feet square.”

The beholder takes another huge rip while she considers your questions.

“Those are excellent questions,” she exhales, staring back at you with 3 stalks while the rest gaze upward, “and I know the answers to none of them definitively.  I imagine both elementals – the one bound to the ship and it’s friend – want to go back to the elemental chaos or somesuch.  The water elemental cannot, for some reason, free the air elemental, but has also itself made no move to escape on it’s own.  As to where the ship came from or what’s still aboard, your guess is as good as mine.  We’re guessing several hundred years, based on the coral growing on and near it, but that’s an educated guess at best.”

Genn nods slightly at all of this, a gesture you’ve come to associate with him committing things to memory. He narrows his eyes, smokes a bit, and sets himself to making plans. “My northern companion makes an excellent point; would it be possible to use the ship repairing the Blazing Eye, or the Eye herself, in our cause? What will you and your crew be able to offer us in terms of aid as we seek to return to you this most valuable of prizes? And you say the ship can fly; none of our number are experienced sailors on water, much less in the air. If we get to the lost ship, would you or one of your number be able to pilot it?”

Orad: “It will take us some time to plan, research, and gather supplies. I assume we will be able to contact you in some fashion as we make ready?”

“Sorry, but a good captain never gives up her ships or men when she doesn’t have to,” Susan replies. "Per our agreement, I’m obligated to contribute nothing save staying out of your way and not vitrifying the lot of you.

“That said…we’ve been boring tunnels into the island beneath this lighthouse in an effort to get under the ‘Jammer and take it that way.  This proved relatively futile, as one or both of the Elementals also have friends of Earth.  If anything, I will send some of my men down to the tunnels so the Earth Elementals – much smaller and weaker than the Water, mind – aren’t able to help in inevitable battle against you.

“As to getting the ship out of the water and repairing it – well, that’s my job.  Remove the Watery obstacle before me, take your prize, and I’ll deal with the rest as I will.”

We take our leave, and search out more details and preparations. Genn probes the Memory, and comes up lucky:

The ship that crashed was called “Vlaakith’s Dagger”, and it crashed into the seas of Serran late in the evening on the 1st day of Seventhmonth, CY 981. It was badly damaged when it crashed, as it’s mission had ended in massive failure – it had blindly shifted some 19 consecutive times in order to escape pursuit, and as a result it’s crystal engine was badly damaged. While it had finally escaped it’s pursuers, it had the bad luck to appear a mere 500 feet over the water while travelling at a downward (well, relative to the plane it had entered) angle at maximum thrust. The Dagger slammed into The Gulf of Firesight less than a second after it appeared, drawing the attention of the small coven of Verrik celebrating the Solstice on the nearby beach. Most of those aboard the ship died on impact – if they weren’t dead already – and many were thrown free of the sinking hull. As the ship sank, the motive Elemental within attempted to break free – it’s bindings had loosened on impact, and it knew the crew to be distracted and scattered. While it did manage to summon a friend shortly after the ship touched bottom, shortly thereafter the remains of the crew managed to rebind it back within the ship despite it’s efforts. The crew were, unfortunately, unable to use the rebound air Elemental to pull free of the ocean floor – an enraged water Elemental held the ship in place and attacked anything moving about near it, and does so still. Even worse, the crystalline engine remained active despite the best of the remaining mechanist’s meager ability. Normally, this wouldn’t be too bad – a minor Planar break, but nothing insurmountable.

…unless, of course, the last plane visited was some sort of hellish nether Shadow realm. With no way to close the rift and no escaping the elemental, the remaining Githyanki aboard quickly fell to The Dark. The Elemental wasn’t long to follow, relatively, though it still clings to a form of quasi-life despite it’s tainted nature. Captain Vlax and her crew remain aboard, undying, and unable to get away despite years of effort.

Game notes 2011 Mar 12
In which an old member of the Stormfront makes an unusual entrance.

Aurora cures us of our wounds, and the poison from Mittens. She sucks the curses energy out of Miriana, and suggests that she can expedite Orad’s regaining his animal companion. She offers to let us camp here for the night, and have her remaining akthar lead us back to Serathis in the morning.

In the morning, we’re supplied with fresh fish and ripe fruit. Aurora seems to be enjoying the sun, the water, the feeling of everything. She’s done what she can to repair Tarja’s body; the skull tattoo is magical and still there, but Aurora has cast Gentle Repose on her and prepared her as best she can. She also gives us as much of the ore as possible, while still keeping herself hidden. Genn looks hard at Three about this, but she says nothing about wanting the rest.

By mid-afternoon, we can see Serthis – we’ve made remarkably good time. Orad thinks he could fine his way back if needed, however. Genn carries Tarja’s body the entire way. As we go through the slums, we are unmolested. Going through the gate to the Giant’s quarter, we see there are many more guards; we decide to go through the cave system to our “secret” entrance to our house. Again, nobody messes with us. The Hooks seem to have been here, and we think we might catch a glimpse of Velorians in the distance. Miriana insists we take the bodies the Hooks have hanged down. We unlock the door with the amulet; the door rotates, and we are in our home again.

Nothing seems to be disturbed in the house; Orad, however, sees that something may be leaning up against the front door, and hears a faint chanting – a Rumknskian funeral chant. Looking for the windows, he sees a figure hunched against the door, holding a broken spear; a cloth sack is next to him, and he’s dressed in rags. With his chanting and the disheveled appearance, he looks homeless. Genn ignores this, and goes to make Tarja comfortable in his own bed. Mirania follows and tries to help, but is oddly hostile toward Genn – unlike her. As they are doing this, Genn hears a noise from Tarja’s mouth; the same chant that the old man out front was humming. He flies into a rage, runs upstairs, and drags the old man into the house and onto the floor. His mouth has been sewn shut. The old man, still on the floor and shaking, dumps the contents of his sack onto the floor. Noble clothing (for a Rumskian, anyway) and a simple, scorched iron crown drops onto the stones.

“His mouth. This is on purpose,” Kirmaul says. “He has bad news. He’s done this to himself.” The man, who the barbarians in the party identify as Torgo, adviser to their king and something of a spiritual leader, nods. Miriana casts a healing spell on him. Orad picks up the crown, and tries to converse with the old man. The crown in his hands is humming, in tune with the funeral dirge.

The clothes are about 100 years old, the group finds after casting some spells; the crown is magical, as are the clothes. As we are doing this, the body of Tarja is walking up the stairs; we hear a faint whistling noise, from the north. Orad asks if Torgo if this is his doing; he’s shaking and doesn’t respond. The hole in Tarja’s heart is still there, but she seems to be growing – she makes no move towards us, however. As we continue to watch, we see what appears to be a heart being built in her chest, from muscle, bone, stone, and whatever else is near at hand. Genn sees that her eyes, brown when living, are now pale, icy blue. We hear the whistling grow louder; there’s a huge crash, and an icy greatsword flies through the wall and into Tarja’s hand. The body begins grasping for the sword like a man dying of thirst crawls toward an oasis. Its eyes are closed until it finds the hilt, at which point they spring open. A dusty voice coughs out, nearly inaudible at first but gaining in strength, “‘Topple the throne and it will fall, fracturing the ice beneath until all are swallowed in the usurper’s folly.’ Was this my grandfather’s sin, or the sin of those who felled me?” The voice is at a roar now, and the newly-risen body raises the great sword of Rrmunsk into the air. “No matter who drew first blood! It pours forth in glacial rivers, and the thaw is unstoppable. I shall wreak vengeance, thus swears ”/campaigns/serathis/characters/79257" class=“wiki-content-link”>Abilurd, King of the Rrmunsk." Looking down, his jaw drops, and he murmurs as he feels along his chest, “My armor…? Where did these come from?”

“It is well, then,” Torgo says, ripping the stitches in his lips. He breathes his last, and dies. Udyr uses the sight on the body of Tarja, and gets a vision of a wasted, icy battlefield. Kirmaul sees what’s going on, and says dryly, “So, do we still need ”/campaigns/serathis/characters/boren" class=“wiki-content-link”>Boren? ‘Cause she’s breathin’ . . ." Udyr says, “Yes,” and runs out of the house to fetch him.

Orad picks up the clothing, and it’s heavy – it’s the king’s armor, with an illusion of clothing over it. He arranges the armor beside what may be his sovereign. Kirmaul attempts to repair the wall; Three is sitting in the corner, taking it all in. She has the star metal we recovered in a bag, and watches us as a neutral observer, waiting to finish her task.

Udyr comes back with Boren, filling him in on the way. He asks Three to step outside, as well as Udyr; they comply. Once they are gone, he exposes his eye, and starts to work. “Well, she’s human . . . and her name is . . . Abilurd . . . wait? The champion of magic? Wasn’t he one of the founding members of the ”/campaign/serathis/wikis/the-stormfront" class=“wiki-page-link”> Stormfront? Wasn’t he in my caravan, years ago?"

“Runechildren aren’t the only way the land protects itself,” Boren tries to explain. “Sometimes the essence of a cause can come back, a spirit that is still needed.” Boren stares a second: “The king ”/campaigns/serathis/characters/79257" class=“wiki-content-link”>Abilurd Njakith died two days ago. But it seems he’s here, in the body of this woman. He’s taken this body; whoever she was isn’t coming back until he leaves." Hearing this, Genn attempts to draw his weapon, intent on killing the thing that’s possessed his love. His companions see this, and attempt to stop him; he backs down, knowing he can’t win against all of them. Boren stares at Genn, and says, “We need to know if this was Aliburd; if it is, he was a good man. If not, I’ll help you destroy it myself.”

Genn stares hard into Boren’s face: “Everything that I had has been taken from me. Again.” He walks outside, and flies away. Miriana follows him out the door, crying. “Tell me it’s not your fault!” Miriana screams out as Genn disappears into the distance.

The group decided to deal with Del-Dorran already. Miriana accompanied Three down to the tavern, and Del-Dorran showed some time later. He asked Miriana if the bag of Elizhar was “all the ”/campaign/serathis/wikis/elizhar" class=“wiki-page-link”> Elizhar the Stormfront found", and Miriana said it was. More notably, Three nodded in agreement. Del-Dorran accepted this, and gave Miriana 50k. Or, rather, 50k in mixed coins in a Bag of Holding – he asked Miriana for one of hers, saying she could just dump her stuff into the new bag. Miriana demurred, gave Del-Dorran 2000 gp out of the new BoH and came back with 48k.

Per the DM’s HEAVY urging, the group opted to look to buying a group healing item. They decided on a universal wand of Heightened Lesser Battle Healing, caster level 10. So 3×10×850 (which is to say Spell Level times Caster Level times 850 for universal user), or 25500gp. As such, the wand has 50 charges, each of which is 1d6+20hp with no subdual to the user. (works out to about 22gp/1HP on average) The remainder was divided some 5 ways (Genn/Miriana/Udyr/Orad/Kirmaul), with some going into the group fund.

Game notes 2011 Feb 26
In which we defeat the Lifekeeper, and Genn learns a horrible truth

Genn stands with his companions, staring out over a small valley. An hour ago it cradled a small lake and the Lifekeeper’s sanctum; now, it was a roiling mass of water, mud, timber, and debris. After a few moments, he turns away and walks to a nearby fallen tree. He sits, wincing as he does so. The group can see blood still oozing from his shoulder; his armor may have prevented the spear from impaling him, but it still did considerable damage. He slowly takes out his pipe and fills the bowl, his hands shaking slightly as the adrenaline of combat wears off and fatigue replaces it. “That was . . . unexpected,” he says dryly. "I hope the akthar got out ok. They seem to be pawns as much as we are.

“I don’t know why she destroyed her lair; I’m not even sure what she is — if she were still a dryad, she’d be dead; ”/campaigns/serathis/characters/miriana" class=“wiki-content-link”>Miriana and Orad felled her tree, or at least what we thought was her tree. And when we managed to strike her, the blood was red; I don’t think that’s normal. Perhaps she’s turning into flesh, just as her captives turn to wood and leaf? And it seemed almost as though she let us go . . . hell, I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go; a city full of scholars could sit for a dozen years in a dozen libraries and probably not figure out what all we’ve seen. What’s important is that we all got out alive, and we got what we came for." Here, Genn looks at Miriana’s satchel. “It’s dangerous, and I don’t want to carry it any longer than we have to. The Lifekeeper’s on the run, or at least I’d like to think so. In any event, we don’t have the means to track her; we need to rest, heal ourselves, and get out of this damned swamp. The Lifekeeper’s sister wanted proof that she was no longer herself; maybe she’ll take our word for it; I could try to create an Akashic stone, as well, and show her exactly what I’ve seen. I think I can do it; I’ve read about how it’s done, at least. But that will take time — one thing we never seem to have. ”/campaigns/serathis/characters/78452" class=“wiki-content-link”>Valdra’s out there, and seems to have taken our slights to her much more seriously than I thought."

Genn is silent a moment, lost in thought — or memory. “To hell with her!” Genn says, standing up and seeming to rally himself through force of will. “And to hell with the Lifekeeper, and anyone else who stands in the way of our vengeance. We destroyed her elemental, her army, and felled her tree; let her think on that. Let’s find our way back to Serathis, heal ourselves, and find out what happened at Brightstone Keep. Then we can decide whether to go to the Lifekeeper’s sister and describe what we’ve seen, or continue our intrigue against the Master. Anyone got any better ideas?”

The Akthar politely coughs at this. “My task was to escort you back to Lady Aurora once you’d completely your task – that is, prove ‘The Lifekeeper’ wasn’t truly her sister, or that her sister was irrevocably gone. I could certainly escort you back to the city limits if you’d prefer, but wouldn’t the blood you speak of be proof enough that this being wasn’t a dryad? Or the Treant you slew? If they were ‘sisters’, that means the trees would be related as well, right?”

Genn speaks up: “Would she accept our word for these events? I’m not in the habit of trusting many — in fact, the only people I trust, save two, are hearing these words. If your mistress will take our account of what’s happened here as truth, then I’ll be happy to tell her all we know.”

He gives you a silent look at this, as if to say ‘THESE are the dominate species in Serathis?’ “Why would she need to take your word? Have you not the blade coated in her blood? Have you not, oh, a giant Treant corpse you could carve some trophy from? I’m sure she’s going to want to hear your story, but it seems like getting some physical proof to back your claims wouldn’t be difficult. Hell – if you have her blood, we could track her!”

The Stormfront discusses their options. Genn flies up to look for the Akthar slaves who might have escaped, but comes up empty. The party is concerned about staying in the swamp. We ask our Akthar guide, but he doesn’t know where we could go. Short of options, we head into the remains of the lake, hoping to find a place to defend.

We make our way to the room that once contained the earth elemental, dodging corpses. We see the altars we discovered earlier; they have been shattered, and whatever magic they contained has been dispersed. Orad finds the tree that contained the artifact, and takes a trophy. We take a quick look around, and find 150 of gold, a chest of dried meat, a bag of spoiled rice, and some meat that we probably don’t want to eat. Genn wanders in a bit, and on top of one of the rocky pillars, he finds an arrow – the very one he used to shoot the Lifekeeper. It’s been left in a rock, prominently displayed, as though it might have been meant to be found. Genn uses Object Loresight on it, and finds something unexpected; he returns to the party visibly shaken, and refuses to speak to the party. Miriana also casts knowledge spells on the arrow, and discovers the Lifekeeper appears to be human, now.

We continue to discuss options, and decide against using the Boots of Teleportation to split the party. Genn continues to be shaken, and takes no watch. The night passes uneventfully; early in the morning the water level has lowered, as some doors to lower tunnels have given way and flooded.

Our Akthar guide finally gives us his name; Leaf. He offers his services to lead us where we need to go. Miriana probes Genn’s mind, and discovers some secrets he was trying to keep hidden. She asks him if he’s able to fight the Lifekeeper again, and he says flatly, “I don’t know.”

We make preparations, and head out in the direction of Aurora’s ‘camp’, with Leaf leading. Kirmual stumbles into a patch of assassin vine, but we manage to free her. Genn stumbles into another swamp plant (Maiden’s Hair) that looks like a woman drowning, and is paraylzed; Miriana uses magic to take him out of the swamp.

We make our way out of the swamp around nightfall, and Leaf leads us to a cave stacked with provisions where we can spend the night and recover. Udyr uses clairvoyance on Brightstone Keep to see what’s going on; Miriana tries to track the Lifekeeper using her dream magic, but fails. Udyr sees that the League of Justice has been victorious, and the Vengeance’s Fist has survived, to a man.
In the morning, Genn is horrified to find that the arrow with the Lifekeeper’s blood is gone. He begins to franticly search; the party assists him, and Orad spots some tracks; extremely faint boot prints, that fade after about 50 feet. They seem to have gone directly to Genn’s pack, and taken care not to be seen. Miriana casts Location Loresight, but the spell just dies, to her confusion. Genn grabs Orad by the shoulders, saying: “We must find it! We must find this person! Find them!” We find one footprint, with an odd depression in it; similar to the assassin the Stormfront once before. Miriana tries Locate Object, but it fails. Lacking other options, we decide to continue on toward Aurora’s lair.

Three, Leaf, and Udyr feel that something is amiss, right before we are ambushed by akthar with glowing orange eyes.

We loot the bodies for the following:

+1 plate x2
+2 dire bastard sword
+1 returning throwing axe
wand of ice bolt, 20 charges
light crossbow +1
ring of magical might (1st level spells)
amulet of spell knowledge (eldritch armor)
various masterwork weapons

After the battle, we interrogate an akthar prisoner. Miriana questions it, attempting to gain its confidence. Orad and others search the area, looking for clues; these akthar don’t match the bootprints that we found in our previous camp. Finally, Genn snaps, grabs the akthar bodily, and yells, “Where is she? WHERE IS TARJA?” At this, the akthar just grins, at which point Genn drops the akthar, and murders him mercilessly. He goes silent again, and looks like he wants to keep killing.

We move on toward Aurora’s lair, following our guide. Leaf gets increasingly nervous; no signs of scouts or sentries as would be expected. We see signs of a skirmish, and someone has tried to hide it; arrows gone wide left in trees, cuts in tree bark or bits of metal and wood in the ground. We glimpse something, and discuss what to do.

Orad turns into a hawk, and scouts ahead. He sees what seem to be some sort of walking saplings ahead; something we’ve not seen before. We discover a dyrad, holding another dryad over a pit of roiling liquid (acid?), slowly lowering her — oddly, she’s not struggling. What we assume to be the dryad’s tree is wrapped in some odd red flowers. The area has been defiled; not to the extent of the Lifekeeper’s lair, but on its way. 500 feet above, Orad spots a group of Faradians, keeping watch — not doing anything, just watching.

We plan our attack quickly, and then move out. The saperlings, oddly, get out of our way as we begin to descend the hill, moving back to an overhang where the red vine is.

The Lifekeeper “Here’s the deal; I want back my knife. That’s it. And I’ll get back my knife, or you are in a world of hurt.” We look at Aurora,

Genn says quietly, “Tarja, why are you doing this?” At the name, she stops briefly. Genn steps forward, and this provokes the Lifekeeper. “I’m going to count to ten,” she says. Genn fumbles about, trying to appeal to her as Tarja. When the Lifekeeper gets to the count of three, the Stormfront springs into action. The Lifekeeper immediately raises her stone shield around her. “Get them, Mittens!” she says.

Udyr readies a spell. Genn rushes forward, hits some sort of wall of force, and flies over it and continues toward the tree. An enormous scorpion appears, and attacks Kirmaul. Things go crazy; it animates trees.

Miriana stops the scorpion with a dream spell; after a pitched battle, the Lifekeeper falls to the ground, dying.; the flowers start ‘popping’. Aurora comes to.

The end needs some editing still; things got crazy at the end.

“At least it wasn’t your fault,” Miriana says, trying to comfort Genn.

The Lifekeeper’s forces coming down from Brightstone Keep met the forces from Aurora, and a pitched battle ensued. Lady Aurora is deeply grateful; looking at her clearly, she seems to be living wood. She heals all of us. She attempts to raise Tarja back, but the spell fails. “I’m not positive, but I think there is a spell preventing her from coming back if you consume the victim’s organs. Perhaps if a powerful magic could restore her heart, such as a Rune Child, something could be done.”

Further, Aurora suspects that the actual Lifekeeper may not have been Tarja; it may have been some sort of crustacean?

Game notes 2011 Jan 29
In which we do battle with the Lifekeeper herself

The Nameless suggests that The Lifekeeper can be found under the lake; swimming, or a hidden stairwell seem like our only options for getting down there.

As we continue to prepare, Kirmaul and Orad seem to be overcome with a crushing, inexplicable sadness. Kirmaul tells Genn this. While the spellcasters rest and prepare, Genn uses his ability to breathe water and scouts under the lake. The lake’s sides are very steep; there are crevices in the muck at the bottom of the lake; water is flowing into these. Under the muck, there seems to be some sort of magical barrier that’s “holding” the lake up. The lake, at its deepest, is only about 20’ deep. There’s something under the barrier, but it’s not possible to see what. Others in the party also find a large tree; examining this, they find the stairwell, buried into the earth.

The party discusses its options; Genn urges Udyr to be ready to talk the Lifekeeper out of her ways, and Miriana to be ready to deal with the magical dagger Rokverkur that seems to have driven the dryad to this madness.

Three searches around the area, but comes up empty. The stairwell is agreed to be our best bet; it’s single file, and very dark. Marching order: Genn, Three, Udyr, Kirmaul, Miriana, Orad. We begin to descend the stairs; they seem to have been carved for creatures of our size. We’re around 60 feet or so underground, and then the stairs turn back toward the lake. There is a bit of dim light; there is a giant stalagmite in the center of the room, and at one end there is a wooden stockade, and we hear muffled breathing noises from that.

“Well,” Udyr says to Genn, “After you.” Genn moves to one side of the wall, toward the stockade. It’s barred on the top, and seems to be heavily reinforced, probably with magic. He sees a huge, furry, beast throwing itself into the bars. Genn thinks he’s seen one of these before; it’s a rue-akthar. Above the stockade, there seems to be a catwalk leading to passages above.

Genn goes to the other side, continuing to scout. From here, he can see clearly that the stone in the center has a wooden platform on top, with two akthar in a guard post. The one says, “State your name and purpose,” in an almost monotone voice; looking closer, Genn can see that they’ve been infused with plant life.

“I am Genn Belorn. I and my companions seek audience with the Lifekeeper.” Genn says this loud enough to let his companions know we’ve been spotted. The akthar not speaking has mossy patches where his eyes should be; these bloom flowers. Udyr attempts to use the Sight on the akthar, while the other members attempt to spread out a bit and maintain their cover. Orad moves over to the rue-akthar and investigates further; he thinks he makes out another large form in the cage as well.

The flowers close on the other akthar, and looks at the first akthar back. “She has no interest in speaking to you. We ask that you leave before causing further . . . damage.” Genn appeals, but they don’t care, and begin to cross the catwalk. Genn flies up the platform, in an attempt to block their escape.

Three throws a bag of some kind; it bursts into flame around the bridge. The akthar head off into the passages; the last one out pulls a rope, which causes the cage to collapse, letting the beasts out. Orad lets loose many arrows at them, and Genn hits them with a fireburst. The first ru-akthar grabs Orad, while the second (foolishly) rushes toward Kirmaul; she proceeds to cleave it mightily. Udyr attempts to use magic, and hits the first for further damage. Miriana summons a Dream Hunter.

We continue the fight, but begin to hear a rumbling noise of some kind. Orad continues to flee. Genn flies down and stabs it through the heart, but the beast shrugs it off and continues to fight. Kirmaul strikes again, but her monster, too, stands back up and continues. Miriana’s summoned creature manages to kill the first beast, but as before, it explodes in a burst of negative energy. Three fells the second, which likewise explodes.

The rue-akthar dealt with, Orad listens intently at the rumbling. Rocks start to crack, and the stalagmite grows an arm – an earth elemental emerges from the rock. It proceeds to lash out at us, and our attacks are mostly ineffective. Kirmaul urges us to flee if possible. Udyr attempts to heal us, but the elemental foils his spell. Miriana does manage to heal Genn, however. We continue to press the attack, using many of our best spells and abilities; things that do elemental damage and might get past the creature’s DR. The healers continue to do their thing. We start to see success for our efforts, and eventually the elemental falls.

We recover a bit, healing as we can, and plan our next steps. Orad scouts about, and upon sticking his head into the far corridor is greeted with a hail of arrows; the akthar are apparently waiting for us. He catches a glimpse of something of an underground village beyond them, including trees. The corridor above (with the bridge) seems to curve around and drop back down as well; both seem to lead to the same place.

Udyr hears something; someone barefoot running up the corridor. He steps by Kirmaul, pulls his crossbow, and says, “Someone’s coming!” We prepare ourselves.

A javelin comes through the tunnel, with a white cloth tied to it; perhaps someone is trying to surrendering to us? “Show yourself, then!” cries Kirmaul, lowering her axe. We see it has orange eyes. It asks to talk. Genn goes forward, and it tells him that the akthar are being forced to serve the Lifekeeper; the ones converted into plant monsters cannot be reasoned with, the akthar said, and the ones of his tribe that are able to fight are being forced do so, to defend the Lifekeeper, who seems to be behind the waterfall in the village. The old, the young, and the infirm are being held prisoner, subject to the whims of Lifekeeper’s plan; this one is obviously fearful of being discovered. Genn presses him about the Lifekeeper’s defenses, and if he’s seen the artifact the Stormfront is after; he has not.

With this info, we regroup, and decide to find out if we can talk to the akthar defending the lower corridor with arrows.

Lifekeeper village

The “village” has some buildings, but they look more like livestock pens than fit habitations. The akthar are waiting for us, all armed and set. There is something of an alter in the village, covered with glowing runes. Three throws the javelin.

Miriana shouts to the akthar, “We’re not here for your tribe; if you leave, we can cover your retreat!” We here the voice of the plant-corrupted one, who’d spoken to us earlier: “They will not retreat. Leave. We won’t be warned again.” At this, Miriana lets loose a magical blast, and cries out, “Run, save your tribe! We’ll fight these!” We move in to attack the “plant akthar”, while leaving the “slaves” untouched. They are confused by this, and initially don’t move while we engage the others.

The plant akthar, however, do respond – they draw whistles and make a piercing noise, and others hit Genn with two javelins so hard they push him back. Kirmaul, intimidating as always (especially when covered with ru-akthar blood), cries out, “If you’re in my way, you’ll fall!” and charges forth. Genn uses an earth blast, and knocks one of the akthar prone. Miriana again implores the uncorrupted akthar to flee. After some indecision, they do; meanwhile, the Stormfront continues to wail on the others, dropping them in short order.

Udyr looks at the alter, and determines it’s some sort of sustaining device; a battery for spells, essentially, though we don’t know what it’s storing or powering. A quick look at the bodies reveal the suits of +1 plate (3x) +1 bastard swords (x3). We prepare as best we can, and then proceed through the waterfall.

Lifekeeper island

We are immediately hit with a scent of death and decay, and a sense of evil of death and decay. An akthar is strapped to some sort of alter, held down with vines. A beautiful, slight blond woman is at the center; “Stay back!” she says. “We must not break the circle, it might hurt him!”

Genn walks forward, questioning the dryad, stating that he’s here to recover a dangerous artifact that has corrupted the Green. The Lifekeeper drops her pretense, and the illusion of beauty; she appears as a black woods dryad, and says, “Get them.” She becomes encased in stone slabs, and the water around Genn starts to boil. Two corrupted shambling mounds rise up; the first does an enormous amount of damage and grapples him. Orad, the hawk totem warrior, notices a gleam of silver buried in the tree behind him; perhaps the artifact we’re looking for. He points this out to Miriana.

Three displays her agility, pushing off of Genn and leaping to the island. Udyr casts at the other mound, hitting it massively. As he blows off part of the debris, he sees that there’s what looks like an akthar buried in the creature; apparently, they are being turned into these creatures. Genn surges, breaking free of the grapple and flying up as fast as he can to escape.

Miriana uses telekinesis to attempt to rip the silver object out of the tree. The shard of metal comes free, and Miriana attempts to move it into her bag. Just looking at the shard evokes cruelty and malice. The tree begins to animate, but the shard is ripped through what would have been his face. The tree falls dead, hitting Miriana in the process. We hear a shrieking; another mound rises out of the water.

Three attempts to disrupt the circle; she succeeds partially, but gets hit by energy in the process. Udyr drops another greenfire on a mound, killing it. Genn hits one with another Earth Blast, knocking it prone. However, a jet of lava shoots up from the earth. It damages several of the party. We continue to fight on. Three decides to kill the akthar on the alter, hopefully preventing him receiving a worse fate; however, she’s severely injured. Udyr summons a dire wolf out of sonic energy.

The fight turns for the worse for the Stormfront; Kirmaul is possessed magically with a desire to kill her friends; Genn is hit with a spell causing his own wounds to grow hideous tentacles and attempt to strangle him. Miriana attempts to dispel this magic, succeeding and most likely saving our lives. Kirmaul turns her rage once again toward the mounds, and we redouble our efforts. The Lifekeeper continues to elude us; we don’t know for certain where she’s at, or what she may cast next against us.

We finally drop the last shambling mound, but the Lifekeeper still eludes us. We spread out and try to spot our final quarry. Three uses a blast of energy from one of her devices to attempt to destroy the casting circle in the center of the island.

The party, running out of ideas, spreads out and fires arrows randomly. Genn, miraculously, hits the Lifekeeper; he tries desperately to grab her when he sees the arrow hit, but she squirms free. We continue to search in vain, but seem to be out of spells, healing, endurance, and ideas. Knowing that the Lifekeeper still has spells (proven by the fact that she keeps casting and trying to kill us), we cautiously retreat. “Go then; flee,” we hear a voice say. “Whatever, we killed your tree!” spits Kirmaul defiantly. The Lifekeeper seems to let us go, however, and we head out, back out of the swamp.

We meet up with our akthar guide again, and when we get to the portal our guide doesn’t get his expected call. He severs the portal, assuming his party is dead; as he does so, we see a ghostly black figure attempt to come through. We assume that this ghostly shape was the “Song of Infinite Dark”; perhaps cast by Valdra Longclaw in retribution for past wrongs.

We hear a crash behind us, and returning to see the lake we were under has now collapsed, flooding the Lifekeeper’s lair. The Stormfront stands at the edge, with many questions. Is the Lifekeeper still alive? Why was she not killed with her tree? Is she now mobile? Who sent the ghost after us? Did the orange-eyed akthar escape? Will they ally with us if needed? How will we escape the swamp and return home?

Game notes 2010 Dec 11
In which we recruit allies for an attack on Brightstone Keep, and fight a battle in the swamp

Miriana and Udyr search for the League of Justice – meanwhile, Orad has sought out Vengence’s Fist and convinced them to aid our cause with a rousing speech.

Miriana and Udyr find that Tol-Bandari has been hanging out at Grom’s Pit lately, and go there in the evening. The evening meal is finishing up, and they find the giant telling tales to an less-than-enthused audience. “Mr. Bandari!” Miriana calls out. “We have a proposition for you!” After getting over the confusion about what “proposition” means, Miriana tries to convince him and his band to attack Brightstone Keep, spilling some of the information about it being related to The Lifekeeper. “I will gather my men, and we will ride to Brightstone Keep — for justice!” Udyr gives basic info to the Litoran about Vengence’s Fist, so they aren’t accidentally killed. Tol-Bandari orders two more ales, and insists that the two drink with him “to justice!” As they are finally leaving, a member of the League hands Miriana an unlit torch – this man may have been from Valdra Longclaw‘s men. "You’ll need this; beware the night!" he says, almost jovially. Miriana lights it once they are out on the street; the torch seems totally normal, no different color or anything.

Also, at Genn’s suggestion, they give a note for the Shadow Circle to the bartender. The next morning, at around midday, Ashe Bitterslice knocks, looking hopefully for Teodoire Wynne and asking us to meet back Grom’s. Miriana confirms with Ashe that the League of Justice isn’t there, and that “Uncle Genn” can come along. We meet with the The Shadow Circle. “So, what do you know about the Lifekeeper?” Miriana asks. The Shadow Circle know much, and Miriana asks if they would like to help us remove the Lifekeeper. We discuss our options, and the Circle agrees it would be better to move against the Keep to help keep Vengence’s Fist alive, despite Ashe and Tol-Bandari. Fenora Drake, during this conversation, seems to know something about Miriana’s oddness and her connection to Fraalsch — we commit to speak on it more.

The day before we’re planning to leave, we awake to a commotion of people yelling, banging on shields, etc. — the League of Justice announcing to the city that it is leaving. Kirmaul gets her axe enchanted by Senka. We prepare for our journey; Orad has come back from his time in the woods, making peace with the loss of his hawk. We set out across the city, toward the northern slums.

We meet an akthar as promised, and he gestures that we’re ready to go on. He leads us deep into the woods; the forest is thick, and we make slow progress. At one point, we pass a hill with two concentric circles of monoliths; the spellcasters feel a power in the area. Around mid-morning, we arrive at a clearing; it contains two clumps of trees that have been ‘moved’; other akthar are tying them together into some sort of large arch that doesn’t appear to appear magical. We rest and eat; about half an hour later, the arch is complete. One of the akthar, apparently a female and some sort of leader, climbs to the top and pours some liquid on the arch. Odd lights and static effects start – after a couple of minutes, we stare through the arch and into a swamp. Our guide finishes his food, stands up, and says, “Ok. Now we go.” He steps through, and gestures us to follow. We do so, into the swamp. Kirmaul sinks a bit into the swamp; Genn elects to fly just above the ground. It’s warm now, foggy, and smells of decaying plants. We hear insects. Our guide helpfully points out quicksand, vampire vines, and the like, helping us to avoid them. Some of the group hear some sort of repeating noise; Kirmaul draws her axe. Our guide notices, listens for a moment, then says, “Get in the water. Now.” He jumps in, and we reluctantly follow suit. After around 30 seconds, we see an enormous scorpion moving through the swamp. Thankfully, it doesn’t see any of us. “We must be close,” our akthar guide says, “That creature isn’t supposed to be here.”

Our guide continues to lead us; after 1/4 of a mile or so, we come to a low, shallow valley with a shallow lake in the center, surrounded by thick, moss-covered trees. “We’re here,” the akthar says. He refuses to go further, saying that he can feel others of his kind in the area. The lake is murky, with no plant life save for a fallen tree in the lake; Orad points out that there are no animals about, either. We scout about (magically and otherwise), but don’t come up with anything. We notice that Orad is looking toward the center of the lake; as he does so, a wave of water rises up out of the lake and hits both Udyr and Genn.

As we start to battle the bog salamander that rises up out of the water, three of the trees along the shore turn into undead tree-like things, and enter the battle as well. Kirmaul falls into the water at one point; Genn manages to pull her back above the surface. Three, Orad, and Udyr continue to battle the tree monsters.

[Max, playing Orad for this session, triple crits on the salamander at one point, dropping it one point of Con (dropping it 14 HP), 78, pushing it four squares, and it starts drowning, etc. etc. It had 21 hit points when it died. Rob and Max both get a hero point for this.]

Miriana gets bound by plants, and disappears. Kirmaul appears to be under the influence of some magic, keeps trying to go back into the water; Genn keeps trying to restrain her. She eventually shakes it off. (In her head, she recounts later, was a voice compelling her to roll into the water.)

A . . . presence . . . telepathically asks Genn why the party is here, and who they are fighting against. He answers honestly, saying that The Stormfront is here to recover Rokverkur and stop the corruption, as well as to have its revenge against Xarthran. Hearing this, the force tells us it will not help, nor hinder, us. Genn agrees, because this is the force that has captured Miriana; she is returned unharmed. Before leaving, the presence tells us the Lifekeeper is below the lake, and tells us two potential ways we might enter. It then departs.

Game Notes 2010 Nov 19
In which Genn confesses something of his past, and a plan is hatched to defeat the Lifekeeper

Genn comes back, and tells the party what he’s learned in the library:

COLD-FORGED IRON: It’s Elizhar, or at least the description of it matches that which Del-Dorrin gave. What’s more interesting is the description he gave of the dagger – some research leads you to a story about a knife called Rokverkur that has the same properties – impossible to track/find, withers with a touch, appears to be totally mundane. The story tells of how Rokverkur was forged by ‘a screaming scourge’ from ‘beyond the horizon’, and how it was somehow instrumental to sealing it away.

BLACK-EYED SUSAN: Black-Eyed Susan is a pirate that’s known as the scourge of the Southern Seas, and her ship is known for it’s brutality – no survivors, ever, or so the legend goes. Even those that teleport away seem to be taken down and destroyed, or prevented from doing so somehow. The Memory allows Genn to learn that “Black-Eyed Susan” is called by a different name by her crew – “Black-EYES Susan”. She’s a Beholder, and her crew is run through a combination of outright terror of her and a grudging respect for her overall fairness – she rules with an Iron Eyestalk, but is just. Well, as “just” as a xenophobic, abomination pirate can be. The crew is unsure as to why they are holing up in Spettator, but they know that “Susan” is looking for something in the tunnels beneath the lighthouse that Selsarris mentioned.

Genn then comes clean:

Genn places tumblers on the table for all, and then removes the wax and cork from a squat, dusty bottle. He pours some amber-colored liquid into each glass, and then takes one in hand, gesturing for the others to grab theirs as well. “To companions,” he says, raising his glass and then quaffing the drink. “Sit down, make yourselves comfortable. There are things that need to be said.”

The Akashic fills his pipe from a small pouch, lights it from a small brand in the fireplace, and takes a long pull. He continues smoking as he paces slowly back and forth in front of the group. “I came to Serathis looking for answers. No, let me go back further than that.”

I was framed for murder, and for a crime I didn’t commit the Giants tossed in a prison little better than a sewer. This is what the Champion of Justice, Tol-Bandari, was speaking of, and as is the gift of those who take his oaths, he spoke the truth. The only good that came out of my time there was that it was in those cold, damp cells that I learned to tap the Memory and focus my abilities, thanks to a fellow prisoner and friend. The Champion of Justice was also truthful when he said that I escaped from that prison. Every day thereafter I’ve been searching for two people; the one who was responsible for framing me, and the woman I left behind." Genn draws a deep breath, sighs heavily, as though he’s preparing himself for something unpleasant. "She was the wife of my best friend, and could have proved my innocence – because the night her husband was murdered, she and I were . . . together. I’ve lived with that guilt every day since, and willingly kept that secret to protect her, and to do penance for my arrogance and selfishness.

I came to Serathis because of the rumors — answers could be had here, information, access to knowledge and Memories found nowhere else. I originally hired the Stormfront to pursue those leads, and lacking gold promised to help them in their endeavors in exchange for help with mine. That has led to far more . . . interesting things than I’d anticipated. We’ve encountered runic constructs; we’ve made enemies of gangs, liches, corrupt forest spirits – hell, the bartender of our favorite dive even hates us. We’ve done good, but we’ve made mistakes, and our lack of knowledge, our lack of skill, has caused some of us to die. Kaezhar took his own life because of what was done to him by Xarthran, and has yet to be avenged. Arkith was cut down, and wasn’t given the warrior’s death he deserved; he, too, is unavenged. Our fae companions have left us, not wishing to bring whatever danger they faced to the rest of us.

Or perhaps they couldn’t trust us. We’re good at fighting, we’re good at splitting loot and executing plans, but each of us still has secrets from the others. I’ve kept many, myself, but I’m tired of it. It’s been too far to carry such burdens. Perhaps if Arkith had trusted us more, he would be drinking with us. Perhaps if Teodoire or Natalia felt we could keep confidences, they wouldn’t have had to flee in the night. Perhaps if I hadn’t lied to Marco, he’d still be alive today.

‘Many things are unclear to me; I don’t know if my time in prison has shaken me, or if it’s this damned city, or something else. I see things that can’t be real, I have visions of things that make no sense – hell, I had a long, involved, disturbing conversation with a eight foot tall lobster. The Memory changes in this city; it changes around me, and I can’t explain it. Fortunately, I don’t seem to be alone in this.’ Here, a wry half-smile at Miriana. ‘But the one constant I have now is the loyalty of my companions, and I will not betray such loyalty again. Some things I still can’t share; I will not give you the name of my love, or who in the city is connected to her – the fewer people who know, the safer she is; I fear the Memory may have already betrayed her secrets. I will tell you that I am convinced – utterly – that the iron golem we call Stompy that stalks this city holds the key to my personal mysteries, to why I was framed, and by whom. I am Genn Belorn; I search for those who framed me for the murder of Marco Turunen, and I will have my vengeance upon them. But I am also part of the Stormfront; and as ragged a band as we are, I will use whatever means we have to avenge our fallen, and ensure that our missing companions have a home to return to. We all seem to be pieces in a large, complex game, figures being moved around, our fates being controlled by the roll of dice. But whatever fate has brought us together, we have all fought and bled for each other, and so I will help you in your causes as well. Some of us come to this table for vengeance, some for loyalty. I pledge to you now that if you choose to be part of this company, you will have both, in so much as it is in my power to grant.’

Genn sits down, pours another drink, downs it, pours another for himself. He takes a long drag from his pipe, and looks visibly relived to have gotten some thins off his chest “You have questions, now’s the time. I’ll answer as I can.”

OOC: +1 hero point, Genn

Miraina pats him on the back; “We all do things for honor,” looking sad.

“Then we should decide what we’re doing,” Udyr says. The Stormfront discusses their options; if Del-Dorran can be trusted, if Three can be trusted,if we can contact the Lifekeeper’s sister (or just visit her with our newly-acquired Boots of Teleportation, etc. Not being certain of where the giant noble’s loyalties or motives lay, we make plans to visit the Lifekeeper. We visit Boren looking for wands or other means of reducing weight. We come up with a bit of a cash problem, but Boren is willing to loan us the items we need. After some math, it’s decided we can’t all go, even with weight reduction; Genn, Three, and Miriana are chosen to visit the Lifekeeper’s sister.

Genn activates the boots, and in a flash of light, we arrive as intended. “How did you . . . ah, you’ve increased your abilities.” Genn explains what happened last time, and the Lifekeeper’s sister notices Miriana. “Who are you?” Miriana is confused, but the dryad seems to know more about her.

We make a plan to meet one of her agents at the shore of the lake in the slums, near Phargaryn — in three day’s time, we’ll have the League of Justice and Vengeance’s Fist attack Brightstone Keep as a distraction to draw some of the Lifekeeper’s forces out in response. Meanwhile, the Stormfront will attack the Lifekeeper directly. The sister had promised to send some wyvern under her control to Brightstone to provide air support.



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